Breaking into Pieces

Many years ago a family member offered one of my daughters a shiny new helium balloon.  She was very excited.  We were outside on an overcast and windy day. I attempted to help her hold on to it, thinking it might fly away.  She was an independent three year old that wanted to do it alone.  The balloon was loosely attached by a clip to her dress.    Eventually the clip failed and the  balloon  slipped from her grasp.  We all watched the balloon float farther and farther away.  My little girl fell apart into a inconsolable storm of pain, loss and anger.  I knew it wasn’t just the loss of the balloon.  We had just moved to Alaska from the East coast with out her father.  The balloon was another thing removed from her small world.  I will never forget her pain.  I will never forget feeling so lost and helpless as a parent.  It seemed like I could not ease her heartbreak.

Most adults have experienced the same overwhelming emotions and sense of loss my child did at three; just for very different things. Often we experience our losses with extraordinary anger, pain and grief; because it is tied to something else.  Regardless of our age, we can loose control in the surface wave of emotions, that pull us back into thick muddied waters holding  past events.

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How To Deal With Negative Feelings

Your feelings are a signal giving you feedback.

They are communicating to you, showing you what you need to pay attention to.

We are conditioned to only feel what we think of as “positive” feelings. And we tend to do everything to avoid “negative “ feelings.

We must realize that the more we suppress our sadness, the more we limit our capacity to feel joy.

Consider this: Feelings are neither good or bad. These are just labels we place on them as a means of survival.

Feelings are feedback.

Feelings are energy.

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Learn to Be a Storm Watcher

Before we can learn to free ourselves from our own fearful reactions to unwanted events, we must realize just how worthless fear actually is -- especially when we turn to it to protect us from what are essentially bad dreams wrought from the darkened works of our own imagination! When it comes to these stormy moments in life, what we resist always persists. In truth, it is our not wanting to be in a psychological storm that produces the very storm of unwanted feelings that we don't want!

One of the things that make uncertain times so hard to bear is the flood of fearful feelings that seems to travel with them, like hard rains we are sure will soon fall from a distant, dark cloud on the horizon. But such fear is neither a natural nor necessary part of uncertainty, and this you can prove to yourself if you're willing to be a conscious storm watcher.

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The Practice: Take Heart

What do you do when the bottom falls out?

The Practice:
Take heart.

Why?

It takes heart to live in even ordinary times.

By “taking heart,” I mean several related things:

  • Sensing your heart and chest
  • Finding encouragement in what is good both around you and inside you
  • Resting in your own warmth, compassion, and kindness; resting in the caring for you from others; love flowing in and love flowing out
  • Being courageous, whole-hearted and strong-hearted – going forward wisely even when anxious, knowing your own truth and as you speak it

When you take heart, you’re more able to deal with challenges like aging, illness, trauma, or conflicts with others. You’re also more able to take advantage of opportunities with confidence and grit.

Additionally, it takes heart to live in, live with, and live beyond times that are really hard. Your personal hard time might be bad news about your health, the death of a parent, or betrayal by others. Or it could be related to changes in your country and world, and your concerns about their effects on others and yourself; I’ve written about the importance of finding and facing facts at the level of society (feel free to skip it if you don’t want my take on politics).

There are so many examples of honorable people facing great difficulty with dignity, principle, and courage. They did it. We can, too.

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How can you face the fear of suffering?

Suffering seems to be a fact of life. How do we face it?

Clearly it is a stranger to none of us. Perhaps we’ve not experienced the corrosive pain of illness, persecution, starvation, or violence. We may not have lived with the deterioration and loss of a loved one. Few of us have seen the charred face of a burned child. But each of us has experienced our fair share of not getting what we want or having to deal with what we don’t want. In this, we all know suffering.

The way in which we deal with suffering has much to do with the way in which we are able to be of service to others.

Of course, not all helping revolves around suffering. Much of what we offer may be in the nature of simple support or guidance. Moving a friend’s new furniture, teaching a child to read. But it is the affliction of others that most directly awakens in us the desire to be of care and comfort.

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Ending Our Fear of Death

Fear is a powerful force, nowhere more so than when it comes to death and dying. By comparison, the solutions for solving other fears seem useless. You cannot test your fear; you cannot feel it and move on anyway. There is little reason to trust other people who seem to have no such fear. They have no more valid experience of dying than any other person who is alive.

It is reported that near-death experiences leave survivors without any fear of death, because they have seen the other side and found it unfearful. But near-death experiences, although highly publicized, are rare, even among patients who have died on the table in the emergency room, generally from a heart attack, and been resuscitated. You can take hope from their anecdotal stories—and millions do—but the information remains second-hand.

Fear of death is unique in the hold it has over us, and we spend our lives hiding or suppressing it. The prospect of not existing seems too overwhelming to face. But in one respect, despite its uniqueness, the fear of death can be faced and dismantled. There is a cure that is available to anyone. It consists of exposing death as an illusion.

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Healing Procrastination

Oscar was stuck in his life; the following issue he presented in our session was one example of how he was stuck:

“My parents are coming to visit tomorrow and, as has been my pattern, my house is a dirty mess. I usually spend the day before they arrive frantically cleaning, which I will do today, but this time I’d like to do it differently and not beat myself up and judge myself. How to get the tasks done with peace, joy, and compassion? It’s a challenge because I feel pressured and get angry with myself for letting things go.”

“Oscar, there must be a good reason that you keep your house a mess and then feel frantic when you need to clean it up. How old were you when you first started resisting things like cleaning up your room? And how old were you when you started to beat yourself up for letting things go?”

“I think I started resisting things when I was very young. I resisted getting toilet trained, and I resisted getting good grades. My mother was so controlling and invasive that I think I learned these ways of not being controlled by her.”

“So the part of you resisting is two or three?’

“Yes, that sounds right. And now that I think of it, my mom was very judgmental and I think I took over the job of judging myself when I started junior high school.”

“So you have an inner system with a young adolescent trying to control you with anger and judgment, like your mother did, and then a 2-3 year old not wanting to be controlled and resisting. As long as these parts of you are in charge, you are not going to be able to clean up with peace and joy. Is it just about cleaning up that you procrastinate, or do you do it with other issues?”

“I do it most of the time with everything.”

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3 Ways To Choose Love Over Fear

Choosing love over fear becomes difficult when we feel as if we’re being blamed, attacked emotionally, or harshly criticized. It is in these situations that we tend to choose fear, possibly even subconsciously. If our identity or ego is threatened, we can’t continue our comfortable narrative about who we are and what we stand for. This reaction to fear creates conflict within us, and we over-react instead of simply being with that fear. We become defensive, and as a result, we can become hurtful to those we love the most. But if we can become more aware of our actions and reactions, and choose love over fear, we can live in alignment with our authentic selves.

Here are three ways to begin making the conscious choice of love over fear!

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An Appropriate Response: Living from an Awake Heart

Much of our suffering comes from reacting to stressful situations with fear or aggression, rather than responding with wisdom and care. This talk explores the pathway of shifting from reacting to responding: this includes learning to pause, awakening the wings of mindfulness and kindness, and reconnecting with our deepest intention.

From Buddhist teachings…

The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
habit hardens into character;
and character into destiny.

So watch your thoughts with care,
And let them spring forth from love
Born out of compassion for all beings.

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The Fear of Loving

Loving holds within it the greatest joy and the greatest pain in life. Yet, without it, life is empty.

Love. We all want it. We develop many ways of trying to get love and be loved. From the time we are infants, we do not thrive without it. When we don’t get it, we may turn to many addictions to fill the emptiness that occurs when we don’t feel loved. When we feel loved, we are on top of the world.
Yet many people have a fear of loving. Not a fear of being loved – a fear of loving. 

Why Would Someone Fear Loving?

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Choose in Favor of Your True Self

Imagine for a moment you’ve gone to a movie cineplex that has 16 separate theaters in it. You buy your ticket and walk into the show you came to see. But, before too long, you realize you don’t like what’s on the screen so you decide to change theaters. Unfortunately, the next movie’s just as pointless. So you change theaters again. And again. Now as long as you remain one of those audience members who live only from the level of the lower “me mind” your only choice is to ramble around within the cineplex. You move from one show to the next—all the while not remembering that the film you just walked into was unable to please you the first time you saw it.

But by learning to live from the higher Free Mind another choice comes to you. You walk out of the movies. You take yourself out of the theater complex. Now you’re free to go enjoy the rest of your day in some other way.

To help you better grasp the intention of this illustration, we need to take a brief look into the theater of our usual mind. Consider your own thinking for just a moment. Can you see how your mind loves to go over and over events that haven’t even happened yet? This mental process is the “me mind” hard at work. But let’s take a closer look at what this nature of ours is really doing.

Each time the “me mind” envisions some future event it’s actually trying to find a feeling of security for itself. But the only security this lower nature can ever know is imaginary. So it has to dream up one scene after another where somehow you’ll come out a winner. The more victories it conjures up in this way, the more fear it feels that it won’t win the battles it just created. And the more agitated this low level of mind becomes from its own unconscious activity, the more it tries to settle itself with more mental movies. We can see the end of this painful picture without having to draw it ourselves. This psychological profile demonstrates what it means to be both prisoner and prison maker!

The Free Mind is always a witness to your whole mental and emotional experience, so it can’t be made a slave of any hidden desire. In this instance, the higher intelligence of the Free Mind instantly understands that no mere mental picture of security has any real power to make you feel secure.

And this realization empowers you, effortlessly, to just walk out of your own mental movie. Can you see the immense difference between the “me mind” and the Free Mind scenarios? Being able to consciously walk out of the movie- making complex of the “me mind” is the same as the power to free yourself. Why? Because once you walk out of this tiny darkened theater that your lower nature considers the whole world, you know for certain and at last: there is something outside the world of your usual mind. And once you walk into its light, you know that everything can be forever new for you.

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Don’t Take it Personally: The Protective Personality

There are more than seven billion people living on this planet which means more than seven billion personalities, opinions and ways of seeing the world. With so many diverse and varying ideologies and socio-cultural milieus, someone is bound to act in a way, or say something that upsets another.

The question is: Do we always have to take everything so personally? If not, how do we make what seems personal, impersonal?

Ego: Why We Take Things Personally
From the time we are young, usually before we’re even ten years old, situations or moments in life occur where we feel unsafe or insecure, or someone says something that makes us feel unlovable. When this happens, we begin to develop a second self, or a false self. That false self is often the “ego,” which I like to call the “protective personality” because no one likes to have an ego, but people don’t seem to mind having a “protective personality.”

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Erase Fearful Feelings from Your Life

Any seemingly scary condition in your life, whatever it may be, is not the real problem. It’s your reaction to it that has you shaking. Which is why, if you’ll become truly conscious of a fearful condition instead of afraid of it, you’ll change forever your relationship with fear.

Being conscious of your fear empowers you to interact with it in an entirely new way. This new inner relationship gives you the power to be awake to fear's scary influences, instead of being their unconscious slave. And as each day you discover something new about the shaky nature of your own fearful reactions, they lose their power over you. Why? You see them for what they have always been: unintelligent, mechanical forces.

To be consciously afraid means that you know you are frightened. You feel it, but at the same time you know that these very fears, as real as they may seem, are not you.

Fear is really nothing other than a self-limiting reaction that we’ve always mistaken for a shield of self-protection. It’s time to let it go, which you can do anytime you want. Here’s how: Dare to proceed, even while being afraid.

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How To Have The Courage To Shine (Even When Fear Tells You To Be Small)

The Goddess Metis has a strong and powerful message inherent in her archetypal nature that encourages us to heal some of our self-sabotaging behaviors this week. But, before I focus in on her, I’m going to break down the storyline of the energetic umbrella over all our heads this week to reveal the invitation that was revealed in the weekly forecast.

This week’s universal energy reading begins with the energy of the goddess Mnemosyne, goddess of memory and mother of the 9 muses (of course Zeus, that ol’ horndog was the dad) in the Greek pantheon. She begins by inviting us to look to the past to discover the roots of our patterns, the things we learned and integrated that either support us or bury us in a mire of self-limiting beliefs and behaviors or supportive and positive ones. What story are you telling yourself and others about your past? Can you see your old story play out in front of you? We are memory based creatures and what we remember consciously or store beneath our waking mind rules our lives in ways many of us find baffling. But she arrives to remind us that, to make a shift, we need to tell new stories.

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Breaking Out Of The Cage of Fear!

On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in fear. 

  • They want to date but fear getting hurt. 
  • They long to quit their day job to pursue their passion but fear failure. 
  • They yearn for connection but fear rejection.
  • They want to speak and live their truth, try something different, ask for a raise at work, take the next step in their relationship, go to a movie by themselves, or try a new exercise class but their fear of being embarrassed, what other people might think, judgment, or just plain not being good enough keeps them clinging to their comfort zone, unable to embrace or navigate change.
 
No matter the situation or area of their life,
they remain captive under a dark cloud of always desiring and never doing.
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Transforming Two Fears: FOF and FOMO

Two common fears can block us from our full potential – fear of failure (FOF), and fear of missing out (FOMO). This talk explores how to meet these fears with mindful presence, and discover within them the essence energies of loving awareness and full aliveness (a favorite from the archives).

Note – This talk is dedicated to Tim Ferriss, who turned me on to the phrase FOMO. Tim exemplifies the creative aliveness of FOMO energy when it’s living through someone who’s dedicated to being awake, caring and real. Check out his interview with Tara at: https://youtu.be/pXNEM4wjSmE and his podcast at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/.

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How to be the master of your own destiny

Life can be so very blissful, once we realize that we are the masters of our own destiny. It is only when we allow stress to overwhelm us that bliss starts waning from our lives and fear takes over. How to banish this fear so that we can claim our true identity is what I'm going to talk about today. 

BE THE MASTER OF YOUR OWN DESTINY

By eliminating fear you start sending positive signals to your mind and body. Once this begins to happen, our "Being" naturally settles into a happiness mode and then bliss returns.

We basically need to control our thoughts and not allow them to get negative. This level of self mastery is essential, and this is what leads to a powerful individual being.

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5 phases on the journey from fear to freedom and how they helped me navigate divorce

Lissa Rankin is pioneering practitioner of medicine, my longtime friend and mentor, and a doctor I’ve found to be inspirational through her real and raw approach to transformational work. When I spoke to her for my book Dead Set on Living we discussed how stress becomes normalized. Lissa had some great things to say about this. She maintains that we’ve normalized stress to the point where it has become almost a badge of honor in our culture, as well as a defense. To say we’re stressed is to put on a suit of armor that makes us feel more socially acceptable, because now we’re important, contributing, productive.

If we examine what stresses us out, we’ll see that much of it is rooted in fear—anything from fear of being late for work to fear of death. Lissa said that if there a fear “cure” it would be “coming into right relationship with uncertainty.” I loved that: coming intro right relationship with uncertainty.

She sent me an excerpt from her book The Fear Cure that can work as the foundation for a practice. Try it and see what you think.


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Don't Be Pressured

Bring mindful awareness to how your brain reacts to feeling threatened

What makes you feel threatened?

The Practice:
Don't be pressured.

Why?

Humans evolved to be fearful, as anxiety helped keep our ancestors alive. Consequently, we are vulnerable to being alarmed, manipulated, and even intimidated by threats, both real ones and “paper tigers.”

This vulnerability to feeling threatened has effects at many levels, ranging from individuals, couples, and families to schoolyards, organizations, and nations. Whether it's an individual who worries about the consequences of speaking up at work or in a close relationship, a family cowed by a scary parent, a business fixated on threats instead of opportunities, or a country that's routinely told it's under "Threat Level Orange"—it's the same human brain that reacts in all cases.

Therefore, understanding how your brain became so vigilant and wary, and so easily hijacked by alarm, is the first step toward gaining more control over that ancient circuitry. Then, by bringing mindful awareness to how your brain reacts to feeling threatened, you can stimulate and therefore build up the neural substrates of a mind that has more calm, wisdom, and sense of inner strength—a mind that sees real threats more clearly, acts more effectively in dealing with them, and is less rattled or distracted by exaggerated, manageable, or false alarms.

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Give None Cause to Fear You

When others feel safe around you, you have less cause to fear them.

What puts people at ease?

The Practice:
Give none cause to fear you.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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